Fresh white corn, carrots, green beans, potatoes, summer squash, red onion, lettuce, nectarines, black plums, peaches, and lavender.
Just an example of what we got in this week’s box from AHO. All organic, all local. All harvested just a couple days ago, and more delicious than anything I’ve ever bought in a grocery store. Sometimes living in an agriculture-friendly state like California is really, really great. And did I mention all this cost a mere $21.80? That’s for a small bin. Large bin is $36.80. Every week the contents change, for example, last week we got the most incredible honeydew. If you live in a place that offers a CSA like this, you are a fool if you don’t take advantage!
Sorry, no pictures of this week’s booty, but trust me, it looks fantastic (with the exception of the cosmetically-challenged peaches – what are ya gonna do?)…
Why do you think we always feel like we need more? More clothes, more furniture, more books, more gadgets, more junk food, more more more more more. If the human race were a chick, we’d definitely be that needy chick that is never satisfied (now that’s a terrifying thought).
Everyone’s talking minimalism these days, and I just found this excellent video that brings up some interesting questions about our wild consumption habits and how it affects production (and ultimately, our health and the environment). It’s not super short, but it’s a great watch. (Sorry I can’t figure out how to embed the video!)
It also touches on our workaholic American ways (after all, you don’t get stuff without first getting a lot of money to buy that stuff). BTW, did you know that the US has less paid vacation days per year than Finland, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK, Canada, and Japan? That’s a long list to be at the bottom of.
But let me get back on track. I’m not sure about you, but things like this definitely make me question my motives for needing x, y, and z. They say that the best way to promote change (whether it be in manufacturing, food production, whatever) is to ‘vote with your dollar.’ Lately I’ve been trying to be smarter and more mindful about the things I consume – do I really need this? How will it positively impact my life, my health? Will I have this for years to come? Or will it wind up in a dump? How will it impact the life of the person who made it? Should I buy this cheap version & replace it with something nicer down the road, or just save for the nicer version to begin with? Things like that.
It hasn’t been too difficult of a change for me – I’m not a big fan of clutter to begin with, and it feels great to think you’re making a difference of any kind. Knick knacks & the like really aren’t my thing anyway, paired with the fact that I’ve lived in apartments for most of my adult life and just haven’t had the room. And honestly, I feel much less distracted and claustrophobic when my home isn’t packed to the brim with crap. Over the past year or so I’ve donated loads upon loads of random junk I’ve accumulated over the years (rather, I put it in a box, Julian takes it). Guess what? I haven’t missed any of it. Not one single time have I thought, “Man, I really wish I still had that lamp/candle holder/sweater/DVD/etc.” What does that go to show you?
Have you made any changes to try and simplify your possessions and/or reduce your consumption? Any good tips, articles, websites? Please share!
UGH. My week did not get off to a great start. I woke up with that feeling of enormous pressure in your head and under your eyes, congestion, a headache, heck – even my TEETH hurt. Even sleeping in and taking a hot shower didn’t help. My normal self would surrender to the illness, whine, ask for tea, and whine some more. But my three-days-away-from-my-first-trip-to-Hawaii self? I got my butt in the kitchen, choked down some apple cider vinegar (twice!! ew!), ate four vitamin C and two zinc, ate green things, and spent the rest of the day resting. Things got worse before they got better – I really felt like hell – but they did get better. And now? I feel 100%. But just to be safe, I’ve sworn off all dairy, sugar, and alcohol until we are on vacation. Instead, I choose tea.
So hallelujah for miracle healing by miracle foods like apple cider vinegar, no matter how revolting it may taste.
Also, I thought I’d post a few links to some old posts of mine. I am so often of the mindset that I don’t update my blog often enough, that I sometimes forget how much great stuff I’ve already had the pleasure of sharing here, all of which is buried in the archives. Here are just a few (random) that are worth revisiting, if you haven’t seen them yet:
I loved that last post. I want to do that all the time. Unfortunately my current computer only has 24 photo booth photos on it and you can bet your bottom dollar 90% of them are my cats. But here’s one of me giving myself a … hug? What exactly goes through our heads as we take photos of ourselves? Fascinating.
Oh wow, just noticed something. Let’s all take a moment to revel in the fact that I just posted a photo of myself in which I am posing in front of another photo of myself. Xoxo
High fructose corn syrup = evil. This is widely accepted, old news for most of us. But just in case you missed the memo on why you should stay far, far away from HFCS (or you need a reminder the next time that bag of Oreos is calling your name… JULIAN), here are ten big FAT reasons you should take every precaution not to ingest that garbage, which seems to be in everything from fruit juice to salad dressing these days.
10 Side Effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup
1. Obesity. HFCS restricts your pancreas from producing enough insulin and leptin, which makes it really, really hard for your body to metabolize food and regulate your appetite.
2. Diabetes. Not only does HFCS make you fat, but the irregular fluctuation in insulin levels causes damage to your pancreas, which just so happens to be the primary cause of the D word.
3. Tooth decay and infections. High sugar foods and sweeteners rot your teeth, period. (This isn’t just HFCS, of course, but it certainly doesn’t help matters.)
4. LDL cholesterol and triglycerides increase. When you eat any kind of sugar, your body metabolizes it into fat, increasing your body’s cholesterol levels. HFCS severely limits production of insulin and leptin, so when you eat foods that contain high amounts of the sweet stuff, they are nearly 100% metabolized into fat & cholesterol. Yummy!
5. Increased risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease. If none of the rest of these scare you, this should, considering it is the number one killer in America. Higher cholesterol levels from consuming HFCS causes your arteries to become clogged and block blood flow to and from the heart. Your heart muscles are then weakened, which restricts new oxygen from getting to the rest of your body. The little bonus pockets of fat get an F in Heart Heath, too.
6. Anemia. It goes without saying that foods like HFCS usually contain no vitamins or minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. When you eat them, your body is forced to grab from previously stored nutrient reserves, draining the supplies and lowering the safe, healthy levels.
7. Lowered immunity. HFCS disrupts your body’s production of hormones and enzymes that protect you from contracting diseases and illnesses. If you don’t like getting sick, put down the soda.
8. Lack of calories. Wait, isn’t this a good thing? Not this time. Though foods with HFCS usually contain a ton of calories, they contain little to no nutritional value, which means you are putting your body to work, wasting valuable resources, and in the end – you’re still hungry.
9. Fatigue. Increased sugar intake results in your body releasing more hormones and endorphins (e.g., a sugar rush), and we all know how that ends – with you being pooped and needing another sugar boost. Which brings me to the last point…
10. Mood swings and withdrawal. As with most things in life, the more HFCS (and other sugars) you eat, the more you come to crave it, which makes giving it up that much harder in the end.
So, who wants to grab a Coke and a bowl of Fruit Loops? Unless the thought of being old, decrepit, sick, and broke from medical costs makes you giddy, start checking your labels and opting for HFCS-free foods. Trust me, they are out there, even if you have to check every single brand of maple syrup on the shelf – they are out there.
Special thanks to the many internet medical journals for helping me understand why HFCS is so naughty, and to my husband for inspiring this post.
Good news on the health front, folks. I’ve found the perfect way to ingest the miracle food that is unsweetened Greek yogurt without gagging. Put that sucker in a smoothie!
I’ve been experimenting with different ways to eat Greek yogurt for a while - with various fruits, nuts, honey, etc. – but I can’t get over the taste. But I force it down because I know all that my insides are just loooving that good bacteria (it’s true), and for someone who doesn’t eat most meat and loathes milk, my body could sure use the extra protein and calcium.
So yeah, smoothies. Why didn’t I think of this before? I have a blender. I adore fruit. So this week, I decided to take a cue from all you smoothie fanatics and actually attempt to make a delicious and healthy concoction for hubs and I. It was a great success.
Here’s what I put in:
Strawberries (with the green tops!)
Pineapple (quite possibly the world’s most un-fun fruit to chop)
About 4oz of Greek yogurt
Lots of ice
Pretty basic, no? But grind it all up, pour it in a glass, add a fancy straw, and you’ve got yourself one fine breakfast if I do say so myself. That’s more fruit than the average person eats in a single day, and you’re slurping it down in less time than it takes you to fry an egg.
Plus, with all that sweetness from a nearly fruit-only smoothie, I could probably afford to sneak in a handful of spinach or kale and not tell the difference. I think I’ll try that next. That and some kind of protein powder, which kind of scares me, but I hear it’s just wonderful. Or perhaps some flaxseeds. The possibilities are just endless.
Do you have a fave smoothie recipe? Gimme the deets! Especially if it involves sneaking in weird-tasting-but-super-healthy foods.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and try to talk about something I know very little about – fitness. I’m what would be classified as “skinny fat” – thin enough to appear in shape, but out of shape enough to get out of breath after climbing a couple flights of stairs. I have zero muscle tone and my heart and respiratory system could stand to be challenged by a bit of exercise. But it’s just so hard to doooo.
My dilemma is the same as many – I work all day long, which leaves two options for bonafide exercise time – early am, or late pm. If you know me, you know I’m not an early riser. Try as I might, I just can’t seem to get my sorry butt out of bed in the morning (the only thing that gets me up early is when I know I am going to drive some sweet cats to the vet for Kitten Rescue). And after a full day of work and a starving belly, exercise is the last thing on my mind as I come crashing through the front door with all my stuff I carry around (purse, laptop bag, sweater, coffee mug – I’m like a bag lady really). Plopping on the couch, cooking dinner, even cleaning are all more appetizing than going for a run or heading to a – gulp – gym.
I am no dummy, I know the physical (and mental) benefits of healthful living and regular exercise. My father is a martial arts instructor, my other father hits the gym every morning at 5am on the dot, my brother cycles, swims, and runs multiple times a week, even my mid-70s grandfather goes to the fitness center each and every morning (he’s a retired Colonel, die-hard and disciplined.) It should be in my blood!! But alas, I am lazy. And having a husband with a no-maintenance-required physique is not helping matters.
So what’s a girl to do? Something’s gotta give. It’s time for change. I’m concerned for my future 60 year old self, and my current 28 year old self, for that matter. I have no plans to quit my job anytime soon, so I’ve got to find a solution that works for my am-or-pm schedule. I’m thinking am. After all, I’ve always WANTED to be a morning person, I quite enjoy lazy evenings (and eating dinner at a normal hour). Plus, for the month I did a 6:30am bootcamp back in 07, I felt fantastic all day long and reveled in the fact that I could eat enormous breakfasts everyday.
So what’s my plan of attack? I’m the type of person who likes to lump changes together – therefore I think moving into our house is a great starting point for my ~*new fitness routine*~. Plus, we are moving to a much more run-friendly neighborhood (as opposed to the sketch-tastic Sunset Blvd and dreaded La Brea/Santa Monica corner), which should be great, considering I want to accomplish this:
Mon-Fri: wake up early (no later than 7am) and go for a run/walk, followed by stretches.
Supplement with yoga classes and/or hiking at least 1-2 times a week.
Buy a bike by the end of the year and go for regular rides.
We’ll start there. Yoga is a no-brainer, easy-peasy, solution – being a neurotic nut who tends to worry herself sick (literally), I am familiar with the emotional and physical payoffs of yoga. I even bought a great deal on Living Social this weekend – $45 fora month of unlimited yoga at Earth’s Power Yoga, a studio within walking distance of our new house. If only exercising were as easy as online shopping, right?
But running – this will be a challenge for me. I was that scrawny girl in high school who couldn’t run a quarter mile without dry-heaving (I actually joined track team in ninth grade and quit after a month, big surprise). But a couple years back, I watched my girlfriend Francesca complete the LA marathon and was mega-inspired. I wanted to be one of those people with that kind of endurance, that kind of discipline, with those kinds of sculpted legs! So I started running around my sketchy block in the evenings. At first, I couldn’t run for more than a minute and a half without having to stop, and after a mile I was so out of breath and light headed I felt like my ears were bleeding. It was fun I tell you. But after a few weeks, I was able to run 3 miles – not in one straight shot, but I got it done eventually. I felt great. I looked great. I was in a good mood.
Then I stopped. And anyone who has quit a workout routine knows that the longer you go without it, the harder it is to start back up.
My brother, who is used to me asking him for the “secret” to fitness motivation, recently shared a quote with me from one of his Air Force bootcamp instructors. When asked why he kept running if it hurt so badly, he said “I run because it hurts.” Get it? It’s about embracing the pain and letting that be your motivator to keep going. It only gets better from there, right?
Let’s hope so. Anyone want to join me?
Share your own fitness motivation or tell me your secrets for tricking yourself into waking up early and/or getting your booty moving!
Remember a while back when I posted that great educational animation about cosmetics and how potentially harmful and toxic they can be? Well, I recently got to discussing hair products with two of my female colleagues (specifically about how often we wash our hair – some of us daily and some of us once or twice a week) and was reminded of this wonderful little cosmetics database I found that can help clue us all in on how chemical-laden our cosmetics are. I’ve been meaning to share it with you so you can be enlightened.
It’s called Skin Deep, Environmental Working Group’s cosmetics safety database with listings for pretty much every product out there, each with a grade (from 0-10) based on how toxic they are. It also has a nice ingredients glossary so you can see why that particular product is harmful (it causes cancer, allergies, etc.)
A little experiment
To show you how simple it is to use, let’s check out the toxicity of my favorite tinted moisturizer by Laura Mercier. Ever since I found this lovely product over a year ago, I have completely depended on it. I’m not big on foundation, but this is a wonderful lightweight formula that achieves that nice balance between providing even coverage and being non-orangey or cakey. Needless to say, it’s a staple, and something I use often. Often enough that I would be thoroughly bummed if it’s full of nasty chemicals seeping through my pores.
So, I typed “Laura Mercier” into the database and found they have 21 product listings for that particular brand, ranging in toxicity from 2-8. That’s a pretty wide range, now I’m intrigued. And scared.
Opening up the brand page, I found a list of conditions that could potentially form from use of the ingredients found in Laura Mercier cosmetics – everything from developmental/reproductive issues, cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, and loads of more fun things. I also saw a nice little summary showing that the brand uses 266 different ingredients, has not signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, and is unknown for using animal testing. That last one is a big one for me, so I’m already turned off. But it’s better than being a blatant “yes” – right?
Moving on, I found the specific product I was looking for: Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 (non-illuminated, which for some reason, has a lesser score on the toxicity scale). I was relieved to find the score was a 5, not an 8 like I imagined. But still – a 5? On a scale of 1-5, that’s not too great – according to the site, it poses a “moderate hazard.” That means I’m spending $42 a bottle to put only a “moderate” amount of chemicals on my face most days. And that’s just one product!
As you can see, it also tells me that 50% of foundations on the market have less toxic chemicals in them, and 56% of moisturizers have lower concerns (it also gives me a link to buy them. Hah.) Along with this disheartening information, the product page lists every ingredient, instructions for use, and package warnings, has user reviews (though no one seems to be using this – what a shame, it could be a great place to share safe cosmetics reviews), and more.
Though I’m not sure what my next move is re: Laura Mercier and her moderately hazardous tinted moisturizer, I suggest you all go take a minute to look up the products you use on a daily basis – not just makeup, but cleansers, moisturizers, shampoos, the whole lot. I’m curious, though – what do you think your toxicity score threshold will be? Anything above a 5? Above a 3? I’m curious to know how much the average lady would be willing to potentially feed her body in the name of beauty.
Ick! Ick ick ick! Last week, I shared a video about the story of bottled water from Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff project. Her latest video has me squirming and completely grossed out, because it’s about something I (and you, too, probably) use every single day (except on days when I’m just too lazy). I’m talking about MAKEUP. And cosmetics in general, including shampoo.
I like to think of myself as more educated about this than the average person, seeing as my Mother owns her own line of handmade soaps and is always telling me what garbage goes into the national brands we buy at Target and what not. I started washing my face with oils, toning with witch hazel and moisturizing with Avalon organic lavender lotion long ago, but now I’m completely convicted about what else I might be putting on my face that contains potentially cancer-causing chemicals.
This is our SKIN, people – the same skin that sweats and is extremely porous, permeable and absorbent. It works both ways. Our skin pushes stuff out and it pulls stuff in. Maybe we should be thinking a little more about what it is we’re slathering all over it, right?
I feel dirty.
So what do you buy? This is a great place to start, it’s a very long list of cosmetics manufacturers that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. It’s updated frequently, this list is from March 2010. I was very proud to see that my Mom is on this list, by the way!
I really, really want to do a juice fast after reading this article by Sarah Wilson. I’ve done the master cleanse in the past before, but given my lack of desire to make that surprisingly complicated lemonade everyday, I found myself tired and mopey every afternoon. I made it four days before throwing in the towel binging on french fries (my junk food weapon of choice). Had I stuck with it, I think I would have continued to enjoy the benefits of giving my digestive system a nice break and allowing my body to rid itself of gnarly toxins that have built up over the years.
The benefits of fasting and detoxing can be debated for days, but I am convinced that with all the nasty pollution, chemicals and all-around garbage we’re inhaling, ingesting and slathering on our bodies (both intentionally and accidentally), I’m sold on the concept. But which to choose? There are so many expensive fad detoxes on the market, specifically weight-loss oriented, but I just want a natural, easy, trustworthy detox. And don’t tell me just to start eating super clean all the time, either – I WANT A DETOX!!!
So, where were we? Yeah, which detox to choose. It would be wonderful to have someone deliver elixirs to my doorstep every morning (like the LuckyYou cleanse Sarah did), but let’s be real, I’m frugal. I have a farmers market. I have a Whole Foods. I can put in the effort to make the juice myself. I’m pretty sure. I’m at least willing to give it a shot. We even have a juicer!
Anyone out there had good/bad experiences with juice fasting/detoxing in the past? What has worked for you and where can I read about it?
Back in my early blogging days when I was an uber geek posting on LiveJournal daily and modding communities, I was a survey/list fiend. Whatever I was “tagged” in, you could be sure I was reposting. I guess I’m feeling like reliving those days, because I can’t help myself from participating in this little “10 Things That Keep Me Up At Night” meme that Amy (who I conveniently met on LJ) just posted on her blog, Rainy Saturday.
Lord knows there is plenty that can keep me up at night, though not many things that can get me out of bed in the morning. What can I say, I like to sleep. Just hope you’re never the one that has to wake me up… I give Oscar the Grouch a run for his money.
Onto the evil things that prohibit me from catching zzzzs:
1. Nightmares. You know, I don’t really have that many nightmares (though I do dream a LOT, and really like to tell people “I had a dream last night ____” – people usually don’t care, can’t really understand why, I think my dreams are pretty interesting) – hello run on sentence! K so, I don’t have that many nightmares but when I do, I’m up. For example, when I saw the horror flick Saw for the first time, I couldn’t sleep for a month, I was convinced Jigsaw was on my balcony ready to come at me with a pighead and a drill. I did have a pretty terrifying dream the other night and it was awful. I also have a problem with that half-awake half-asleep still-dreaming thing.
2. Scout. This should really be number one because she is by far the one thing that keeps me up more than anything else (reference this post, for example.) She can be cute as pie but is a real terror when you’re trying to sleep and she is hungry/bored/lonely/wants the faucet turned on/breathing. She is very smart, she’ll knock things off my bedside table to wake me up, too, which is why I have about 3 water glasses left unbroken. She also knows that by pushing it with her paw a little, I’ll jump up and then she’ll stop pushing, jump off, and run the direction she wants me to go. Scout also really enjoys pawing at the windows, clawing at my dresser, or if I lock her out of the bedroom, clawing at the bottom of my bedroom door. I frequently find wood chips and paint flecks on the ground. Let’s just take this moment to appreciate having hardwood floors, because when I lived in homes with carpet, the little brat would fully tear a hole through the carpet if I locked her out. But seriously – if you met her, you’d love her. She’s evil like that.
3. Prayers. I really don’t pray enough, mostly when I’m in the shower in the morning or when I’m walking down the long hallway at work, praying for patience with something or energy to get through the day, or today or example when I was praying for that poor kid who was set on fire down in Florida over a stolen bicycle. I happen to remember to pray as I’m falling asleep, when I run down my list of “things” that I want or need… mostly other people who I’m praying protection for. Anyway, this isn’t a bad thing, but it does keep me up at night. I’ve also been known to wake up in the middle of the night and start praying.
4. Work. Is this on everyone’s list? Give me the name and number of the person who isn’t kept up by work problems at night, because I’d like to hire them as my life counselor. I would pay money to be able to flip the switch and forget about things happening at the office, but alas, I am usually up too early or too late thinking of story ideas or projects that we should be focusing more on.
5. Money. Do I have enough this month? Am I saving enough for the future? Crap, I just remembered I need to order new contact lenses this month. Will I have enough to buy ____ a birthday present? That reminds me, ____’s birthday is next month so I should budget for that. I wonder what kind of a hit my 401k took this month. I really should get rid of my cable to save some money. I could just sell my car. Should I ask for a raise? Do I deserve the money I make? These are all questions/thoughts that I have, really any time of day, but quite often when I’m laying in bed at night.
6. Reading. Ok, if you know me at all you know reading is pretty much my favorite thing to do, aside from talking that is (and if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting me IRL, well let’s just say – I LOVE TO TALK.) I have a stack of books the size of my car that I still need to read, but between work, errands, cooking, cleaning and spending time with the BF, I hardly have any time to read. So the only time I read is on the weekends or in bed before sleeping. Most of the time, reading can help me fall asleep, but if I’m really into the book, it is not uncommon for me to stay up until midnight, 1am or even 2am reading. This is kind of embarrassing to admit but the night I read Twilight I stayed up ALL NIGHT reading it. Yes, teen vampires. I should be publicly shamed for that.
7. TV. I hardly have time to do things I enjoy (reading) much less “filler” activities like TV. I have a DVR so I usually watch episodes of shows I like weeks after they’ve aired, all in a row, marathon-style. This sometimes stretches into the wee hours of the night. Plus, if I can’t fall asleep at night I sometimes come out and watch shows because I refuse to lay in bed awake for more than 30 minutes… it’s not healthy!
8. Family & Friends. It’s super hard being so far away from my family, who live in Virginia, plus I have a GINORMOUS family (four parents, five siblings, six grandparents, countless aunts, uncles & cousins) and then of course, there are my friends, both in LA and back home. I always feel like I’m not keeping well enough in touch and that because I’m so busy out here with my own life I’m being a really crummy sister/daughter/granddaughter/friend. This is why I texted my brother at the crack of dawn the other morning, because I felt so much time had gone by without talking that I just couldn’t waste another moment having him thinking I don’t care. Still haven’t figured out how to manage having a life, a relationship, a job, and a big family all at once.
9. Twitter/Internet. Ah yes, really this should be higher on the list. I, like many, use my iPhone as an alarm in the morning (I really do enjoy that Belltower ring… so lovely), so the phone is right next to me as I’m falling asleep. This makes it WAY too easy to make a last minute check on my e-mail or on Twitter to see if anyone @ replied me. Because you know, that is oh-so-important. I mean, it’s Twitter! They wouldn’t possibly call me if they had an urgent message to deliver. I’ve spent way too many hours scrolling through my follow list to see what everyone is doing/reading etc. What a true waste of time.
10. Julian. Once again, not a complaint… as there is nothing else I’d rather be doing than spending time with the person I love more than anything else in the world. But this is a man who needs very little sleep and frequently stays up very late and wakes up very early with no problem at all. I, on the other hand, need at least 8 hours of sleep at night or I’m a wreck. Me = infant. Him = teenager.
Now that I’ve whined enough to last me an entire week, I think I’ll stop. I really shouldn’t complain, as I usually haven’t got that much of a problem staying awake. If I ever do have problems getting sleepy, my Traditional Medicinals Organic Lavender Chamomile Tea usually does the trick. That stuff is redonkulous, you just have to try it!
What keeps you up at night? Repost on your own blog and leave a link in the comments, suckers!